Thursday, October 29, 2009

The signs of brain-washing.

Question: (Unedited)
Wow thank u for ur answers.
the reason i am asking is because i have always been interested in bhuddism
(ever since i was 16, ten years now) and still am. I have always struggled to
accept and grasp the concept of God! I still have trouble accepting it!

As for what u say about the buddhist teaching of investigating all things and
not just blindly following, i agree with this. it is also fair to say that i have
been guilty of such a thing more than once in my life.

having found myself in difficult circumstances in my life on more than one
occasion i found myself running to all kinds of religion including hare
krishna, buddha and finally settling on christianity. i decided to give it a shot
for two years and now that two years are up i have decided that i am still
interested in buddhist philosophy.

however i must admit that my church have presented me with some awsome
teachings which have helped me clean my act up greatly in life and have also
presented reasonable and strong argument for the existence of god and
christ and the power and relevance of the bible.

however i have also seen far to much in the behaviour, doctrines and
teachings of christians themselves which has left me with the impression that
christianity works on a basis of fear and is very right wing.

i would perhaps even go so far as to call it an ignorant and arrogant religion
with little or no respect for any other religion. (this is at least the impresson
given to me by my church which is perhaps more fiery than other churches
and more provocative.

it was because this church seemed so different from other churches that i
thought i would give it a shot, only two years down the line to have felt
exploited, abused, used and a little brain washed.

however it taght me sexual abstinence as well as other life changing and
affirming wisdom.

at the back of my mind there was always the thought that, being a christian,
this church was kind of p[reparing me for my transition into buddhism.

at the moment i have started incorporating some buddhist belief systems into
my christian ones. i have started trying to meditate in any way i might know
how. perhaps u could give me some pointers and practical tips on how a
young noovice might practice buddhism.

i have learned many lessons in life so far. the latest just seem to be a repeat
of past lessons with some new ones thrown in.

its funny how u seem to believe that u've got life pegged and feel that ur
street wise and wise to life and can cope and see through things and not let
any one walk all over u and con u only to find that ur completely wrong. i
hope that i have finally learned my lessons and can move on and learn more.
or do we just keep learning?

thank u for your time justin. plz stay in touch with me as i continue on my
spiritual quest in life. its nice having a real buddhist to talk to.

My comments:
Hi Js,

Welcome back. It is very rewarding spiritually knowing that my effort to share is appreciated and beneficial.

Let me make some comments on your experiences. By the way thanks for sharing.

(On "running to all kinds of religions")
They are always preying on people under vulnerable situations, like certain crisis in life. They will shower you with warmth and companionship and pray to no end for you; and wallah our your problems solved. It's a miracle they said. I said its a con game. They have been using these tactics throughout the world, especially in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Africa. The more converts means more money in their coffers. I call them ETs ....Evangilical Terrorists. Once they get hold of the head of the family, the rest will follow like blind sheep. It is a very sorry state of affairs.

(On "on the basis of fear")
When you sell something that has no use, the only tactic is to condemn the competitors' products. They put fear on you because that is the only way to prevent you from using your thinking mind. If you are allowed to think and analyze, they will lose you.

(On "with no respect for other religions")
How can they allow you to respect the other religions. If you do, they will lose you. It is a great conspiracy throughout the history of Christianity. Ironically, the very people that they had hookwinked into their religion, are defending them. Why? Because they had been brainwashed. It is a pitiful scenario; and in the name of freedom to practise religion, this conspiracy is upheld through time.

(On "meditation")
The skill in meditation is to relax and observe; not to fight for anything or to be perfect in any thing. The object of meditation is to tame the wandering mind so that we can train it to "listen" to us, instead of we taking orders from it. We want to be masters of our minds, and not their slaves. With a tamed and trained mind, a person can conduct his life with wisdom and will experience inner peace and happiness, without any foolish desires and hindrances. A simple method is to concentrate on our breathing. Breathing out and breathing in, while at the same time concentrating on the sensation felt at the tip of the nostril. Try to bring back your awareness to this point when your mind wanders, which sure will. In this way you will experience calm and inner peace. Please remember to surf if you are really interested in Buddhism.

(On "exploited, abused, used, and a little brain-wash")
You are the very few exceptions who can "fight" against their incessant brainwashing over 2 long years.

CONGRATULATIONS! Truth alone triumphs!

Have peace.

Please come back if you need to communicate.

Intelligent Design?


I'm doing a paper for school about Intelligent Design and part of my research is to ask different religions what they think about evolution. I wanted to ask

What do buddhists believe about evolution?
If you had a child that asked you how old the universe was, how would you respond?


My comment:


Thank you for asking me.

What is "Intelligent Design" in the first place? Buddhists do not "believe" in anything. The Buddha advised his followers not to believe in anything without investigation and analyzes. In other words, we do not believe blindly, just because some "gurus", "saints", "holy books" or anyone for that matter said so. The Buddha's explanation of the universe 2500 years ago can be verified by modern scientific knowledge today. Please remember when the Buddha explained during his time, modern science did not yet exist. His knowledge was based on his supreme cultivation of his mind power; being able to penetrate into the "unknown" through the power of his mind; not by using the limited 5 sense faculties.

His first explanation of the universe was that it was ever-changing and not permanent. The universe is in perpetual motion and perpetual change. Nothing in this world is static and permanent. The universe is also subject to this evolution. There are 4 stages in the evolution of the universe. The state of formation, the state of evolution, the state of degeneration, and the state of destruction. Following the state of destruction, the state of formation begins again. Thus goes the cycle of creation, evolution, degeneration and destruction. This goes on ad infinitum.

The beginning and end of this process cannot be known, as there is no beginning and no end. This is the natural phenomenon of existence. The vastness of the universe has no limit, and the number of universes cannot be known. Science today has proven the Buddha's explanation of the universe.

"If you had a child that asked you how old the universe was, how would you respond?"
If you mean "child" as a very young person, then my answer would be "very very old".
If he is an intelligent adult, then based on the Buddha's explanation and modern science, he will realize that the question is very naive.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Common sense : best religion

Question: (Unedited)
Have a few questions on Dhamma that I hope u can help
to provide some answer.

(1)I heard in a dhama talk that after Meteiya Buddha's sasanna, the world will likely end in fire that will burn and destroy many planes of existance, from hell up to a few Brahma realms. Where will those beings be reborn to? Another world system? Is it common for rebirths to occur in another worldsystem?

(2)I spoke with a buddhist friend who told me that Jesus
could be considered a bodhisatta? is it possible?

(3)While intending to perform dana, I sometimes have
doubts that arise in my mind on the authenticity/effectiveness of the donee. Is this doubt
part of the 5 hinderences or prudence? Where shall we
draw the line? Eg. when donating to a charitable
organisation, do I need to check the effectiveness of
the organisation before donating to ensure that the
money will be well spent and that the collecting agent
does not take a big cut?


dhamma learner

My comment:

Hi Dhamma Learner,

Thank you for asking me. I know who you are. Welcome.

1)After the appearance of Maiteya Buddha, this world system will come to an end. The process is a very, very long one. Beings that cannot attain to the Jhannic realms will be wiped out. Where do they go? I would say their rebirths would be in other world systems. Rebirths are said to take place usually at "close proximity", i.e. around familiar grounds.

2)It is always a sensitive issue when we try to "judge" or form opinions on other religions' personalities. In the first place, do we believe in them? If negative, then we should not form any opinion about them.

3)We have to use our common sense and human intelligence to assess the situation. Of course if we know that not much is to be received by the end user, then we should refrain from being a party to this exercise. In the final analysis, we need to use our wisdom and fair judgement to decide; and not just blindly following the crowd. There are so many genuine and deserving organizations that we can donate to. Seek them out and do the needful.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Want to be toad?


Hello there:

I am a Therevada Buddhist and a high school senior who will graduate this June. My parents are separated; I live with my father and sister. I have been a Buddhist for almost a year now and have been 'out of the closet' to my nominally Christian father and sister since Christmas, with great acceptance and love. Being accepted by them has been one of my most fortifying experiences yet on my path. As my final year of high school draws to a close, with college coming in the fall, I find myself wishing to be able to share this aspect of my life with the rest of my family, seeing as though I am crossing into young adulthood and have no need to apologize for or conceal my way of life.

This had been a subject of considerable inner debate. I feel that my mother would have trouble accepting me for what I am, along with both my grandmothers and some of my other relations. My mother professes the Christian faith but never goes to church and is Catholic only in name; still, on the few occasions that we have discussed spirituality, she seemed suspicious and mistrusting of belief systems other than the one of her birth. Both sides of my family grew up around Christianity and all hold to it to one extent or another: my one grandmother is the most extreme case, a daily mass attendee whose house is a shrine to Jesus and who would have a (literal) heart attack if she discovered that I was Buddhist.

I have no wish at all to alienate my family, or to appear in rebellion to them. I love and respect them all, and respect their choice of religion. At the same time, I wish I felt comfortable enough to share with them what has been the most transformative and healing choice of my life. Yet I do wish to share it with them, and very much so: fear of what they will say, think, and do is all that hems me in, but it is enough. I was wondering if you have ever encountered a situation like this in your personal life, or would be able to offer some advice on what the best course of action would be. Thanks so much, and metta to you!


My comment:
Hi T,

The world is changing and "getting smaller". Communications are instant. Information is at a click of a button. Those who still wants to live inside a well like a toad will suffer the fate of the toad. In religion, many are very wary of losing "members" to other faiths. Some resort to violence in order to prevent their "members" from changing faiths. Most have been indoctrinated since they were born, leaving them ignorant to other ideas with no room for tolerance of others' faiths. They have "closed mind". Bearing in mind this scenario, I hope you will be able to tread with care when talking "spirituality" with your loved ones who have not a clue of what Buddhism is all about.

There is no hurry to announce to them of your chosen faith. Take your time, let your actions speak for you. If you conduct wisely by keeping the 5 precepts, and show kindness and compassion to all, the loving message of the Buddha will permeate through your family members. When they are ready and receptive, then you talk. In the meantime get on with your life as a Buddhist and share your experiences with your friends.

Broke a Buddha image.

Question: (Unedited)

i have a buddha statue and one day i broke the hand off by accedent but i glued it back on, will me breaking the hand off make my karma bad or be negitive?

My comment:
Buddha images are actually crafted by humans out of clay, metal, wood, or what have you. Being creative people, we create Buddha images so that we can pay reverence or respect to our great Teacher. As Buddhists, we never pray to Buddha images, for they are nothing but artful representation of the Teacher. It is his teachings that bring benefit to us when we follow and practise them.

As Buddha images embody the purity and omniscience of the Buddha, they carry with them the aura of the Dhamma (the teachings of the Buddha). We feel a sense of confidence and protection in the presence of Buddha images. Evil and negative spirits will stay clear from these Buddha images.

You will not be creating any bad or negative kamma, please be assured.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Perfection in meditation?

Question: (Unedited)
Hi, how does one fight the need to be perfect in meditation?

My comment:

Thank you for asking me.

In the first place, what is perfection in meditation? If there is no answer to it, then there is no problem. There is nothing to fight for, as there is NO need to be perfect.

The skill in meditation is to relax and observe; not to fight for anything or to be perfect in any thing. The object of meditation is to tame the wandering mind so that we can train it to "listen" to us, instead of we taking orders from it. We want to be masters of our minds, and not their slaves.

With a tamed and trained mind, a person can conduct his life with wisdom and will experience inner peace and happiness, without any foolish desires and hindrances.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dream on.

Question: (Unedited)

1. Is it okay for Buddhists to dream and have fantasies?

2. Who is more supreme? Buddha or the Universal Karmic Law?

Thanks a lot.

My comment:

Hi L,

Thank you for asking me.

1. Is it okay for Buddhists to dream and have fantasies?
Do you have a choice? It is very normal to have dreams. As for fantasies, it is one's choice whether to have realistic and wholesome fantasies or just wasting time building castle in the air.

2. Who is more supreme? Buddha or the Universal Karmic Law?
The Buddha was the supreme teacher in that he found truth and peace, and realized final liberation from suffering. The Buddha expounded the existence of the universal law of kamma which rules supreme in the conduct of life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is hell eternal?


In Dhammapada 10:140, it says that the unwise can fall into Hell. What is the outline on Buddhist Hell? When / what does one do to no longer qualify for rebirth? Is Hell eternal in Buddhism? Thank you.

My comment:


Thank you for asking me.

The Buddha revealed that in the vast universe, there were numerous spheres where beings existed. In our own universe, there exists 31 planes where beings occupy. Two of these are the human sphere and the animal sphere. These two are discerned by us through our senses especially the eyes. However, there the other spheres where we cannot see because they do not exist in 3 dimensional form. It may be 4th or more dimension, beyond our sense faculties to know, let alone see. The Buddhist concepts of kamma and rebirth only can explain this cosmology of the 31 planes of existence.

The Buddhist perspective of life is that this "being" consists of the physical body and the mind. The existence of this being is the result of the energy of the mind taking existence in this physical body. The nature of life-form that this mind energy affixes to, will depend on the nature of the accumulated "kammic" store-house which the being had generated throughout its numerous life existences. If the kammic storehouse has a greater portion of evil and unwholesome kammic energy, this mental energy will seek a rebirth in the appropriate existence such that the evil and unwholesome energies will actualize in that life, causing agony and suffering for the being. In this sense, you can consider that evil mental energies will seek out conditions that favour such existence. The result will be rebirth in the hell plane. There is no such thing as Buddhist hell. Hell is hell.

There are 8 hells in the hell plane. The worst is called the Avicci Hell. The lowest of hells and the highest of heavens may have unimaginable long life span; but ultimately it will also end. Life in hells and heavens is not permanent, not eternal. Once the effective kammic energy is depleted, the being will expire and be reborn in another sphere.

So long as we have the 3 roots of greed, hatred and delusion, we will be reborn again and again....the cycle of birth and death will grind on until we can eliminate completely these 3 roots. Then we will be pure energies with no more attachment to the conditions of more rebirth...Nibbana.

Friday, October 9, 2009

If you want to be a soldier, be prepared to die!

Question: (Unedited)

I am a Marine Officer, and I have been in the Marine Corps. for 12 years. I'm a Christian, but it never really gave me what I was looking for, I do Believe in God, but I want something more out of life. While in college I studied Eastern Religions, I speak Arabic and Chinese, and I understand more then most Americans the thought process of the East. I would like to train and become a Buddhist, but can I as a military officer?....Thank you. J.

My comment:

Hi J,

Thank you for asking me.

Sometime back someone asked the same question. May I repeat my answer:

No one is disqualified from becoming a Buddhist just because of his profession. The Buddha taught universal truths about this existence. The truth is that if one associates with unskilful and unwholesome profession, one must be prepared to face the unwholesome consequences. If one is prepared to be a soldier, then one must be prepared to kill and be killed in battle. The final decision rests on the individual. Buddhism does not force anyone to change one's profession.

There are certain principles which a Buddhist will strive to uphold along the line of the 5 precepts. Of course ideally one should choose a profession that is not against the 5 precepts. But then who is going to do the "dirty jobs", so to say. Who is going to defend the country? Who is going to keep law and order in the streets? Who is going to get rid of the pests that may affect our health? These are all very urgent and realistic questions. Those who are in this category may take consolation that they are doing it for the greater good of the society and nation.

However, at the same time they could strive to lead a dignified, noble and harmless life as best they could. They still can follow and practise the teachings of the Buddha to the best of their ability.

The realities of this world and this existence are such that there are always this unsatisfactoriness and imperfections where many a time we are confronted, without much choice.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Choices in life

Question: (Unedited)
Dear Justinchoo,

I have a question regarding choices we have in life. I've been wondering about the consistency of a Partner's life.

Coming from a Latin culture, people believe that you are only happy when you build a family including Partner and Children

I'm 33 yo, I've been Married twice and I'm in a stage that I do not believe and support anymore the idea that: To be happy, people have to build a Family and have Children.

Knowing that you're a Buddhist I would appreciate to have you comments on this above statement and what do you think about " Freedom of having a choice in Life "

Looking forward for your reply.

Kindly Regards


My comment:
Hi J,

Thank you for asking me.

Actually life is all about choices. The freedom to chose is the greatest gift a person can experience. In Buddhism, this freedom is freely given and even encouraged. The Buddha encouraged his followers to use their freedom to analyze his teachings and only accept if they are beneficial to them.

In all societies, the family unit is the most important core of all social institutions. Without the family units, a society has little chance to survive for long. You have made the choice to have a family relationship, in fact you have twice made the decision. With the decision, comes responsibilities. The present situation is not about "being happy" but being responsible for those who are depending on you to provide a decent life-style. You have to consider all angles, especially the children. This site is not about counselling, and I am not qualified to counsel. The above is purely my humble opinion as a Buddhist. Be very careful to take your time to contemplate and assess the whole scenario, before you decide. This is because others will be affected, especially the children.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Finding Peace

Question: (Unedited)


I never really paid much attention to Buddhist teachings in RE class back in High School, i was too busy trying to cause trouble.
I'm not a very happy person. I suffer with a condition called trichotillomania which causes me to pull out my eyelashes and eyebrows and has done since I was 8 years old. This has caused a lot of trouble for me and i don't think i've ever recovered.
I can be aggressive and frequently feel suicidal, i react in a pretty unfair way to the opinions of others which I hate. I hate the way the world is becoming and crave peace so badly that sometimes dying seems the only option. I know that I have this happiness within me somewhere but I just cannot find a way to keep it.
It is important that you understand I don't like religion, I don't like Christianity or Catholisism or the Jewish faith. I don't like religions that seem to strive against one another to be the chosen people of God and I don't like the modern day people who sin 6 days a week and pray on the 7th! Frankly, it makes me sick and I want to get away from it so presently I tell myself I have no religion although I am supposed to be Christian!
I respect the concept of God and if he is up there I respect him, however, I think that the churches we prey in are full of corruption and I am fed up of the fact people seem to look upwards rather than inwards. It's the easy way out for a population of fearful people who behave like sheep... as you can see aggressive opinions.

I don't know very much about Buddhism is the first thing. All I know is that it seems to match with the person I want to be, peaceful and above all respectful of OTHER species - I watched a documentary which told of how buddhist monks allow cobras to roam as they will around the temple... others would have them turfed out or killed and this is sickening to me. Another thing I want to be able to do is to accept others ignorance and have the skills to be at peace and accept things I can't change in the world.
Please could you tell me what Buddhists worship?? Where the story comes from and what following buddhism means?
I don't want to commit to a religion I will not be able to give 100% to.
I would like to just state that unlike some people I do not want to join this religion purely for my own means.... I would like to use it to help and respect others, to better myself for the wellbeing of the poeple around me and to stop putting those around me in so much pain through whatever it is my soul finds so troubling.
I have no self esteem, i subscribe greatly to the physical beauty aspect of being a woman, I don't want to... I want health and happiness and with that comes beauty.
I may be delusional to some but in my opinion I can see the madness that surrounds this world and my western life with 9 - 5 office job just makes me miserable and sad. I see so much beauty around me in all of the things I believe that mother nature (I do not call it God) created and it is all being destroyed.
If you could give me some information on your religion I would be so grateful. One of my favourite sayings is that if the whole world were buddhist there would be no wars because i truly think that buddhism is the way forward.

I think that rather than saying that I should actually act upon it and use my life instead of watching it pass me by dreaming of what could be. I am so desperate to make a difference and be happy and end my sadness, anxiety and stress and the negative feelings I spread to others in my never ending search for the solution to lifes problems. I am the solution, I just need some guidance on how to go about solving. If this makes sense. I hope so. I'll stop rambling now.

Kind Regards
H .

My comment:

Hi H,
First, don't panic. I've read your second posting, and will respond in that posting. Here I shall comment on what you have written in this posting. Please be assured that all of us have problems, including me. So you are perfectly normal. I will not give direct comments on your "problems", as I am not a qualified consellor. Instead, I shall provide you with what Buddhism is all about and you will be able to understand life, accept it, and flow with it; then you will have inner peace.

Buddhism is the name given to the teachings of the historical Buddha, whose name was Gotama.
What did he teach? He taught us to use our human intelligence to see the world as it really is. He taught us to be masters of ourselves. He taught us to be free from dogmas and commandments. So long as we are fearful of something or someone we are not free. We cannot have peace of mind if we are fearful.
He taught us how to have peace within ourselves. If we do not understand the true nature of the world and this life, we will never experience peace within ourselves.
The Buddha discovered the way to peace and happiness through realizing the true nature of life and this universe. It was more than 2500 years ago in northern India where the Buddha through harnessing the power of his mind realized that if man were to be free of greed, hatred and delusion, he had to look inwards into his mind, and start cleansing his inner defilements. If one reduces one's defilements, one would experience peace and happiness. He discovered that the whole world had certain characteristics and that life continued to exist because of certain causes. This world is very uncertain and unsatisfactory, because we cannot be fully satisfied in life; and that nothing is permanent. He also pointed out that because of our craving for permanent happiness and complete satisfaction, we were always miserable. Once we understand and come to terms with this imperfect world, we will not complain too much, and will live through life with wisdom accepting the whole "package of life".

The most salient aspect of Buddhism is FREEDOM in its practice. The Buddha encouraged his followers to use their common sense and human intelligence to analyze his teachings before accepting them. He pointed out that there was no super agent who controlled us, punished us and rewarded us. We are not puppets on the strings; and there is no puppeteer up above to manipulate us. The natural law of cause and effect rules the world. No matter what you are and where you are, or what you believe, this UNIVERSAL LAW rules supreme. There is no escape. It is perfectly impartial. In simple language, good begets good; evil begets evil.
So, in Buddhism there is no dogma and no commandment. There are only the guidelines and noble precepts which the Buddha advised us to follow. As diligent Buddhists we use certain precepts to guide our lives. These are the 5 precepts: to refrain from killing, to refrain from stealing, to refrain from committing sexual misconduct, to refrain from telling lies, and to refrain from taking intoxicating substances.
Buddhist teachings are like air. They are free, and non-discriminating. If anyone thinks they are beneficial, then they can breathe the air. If anyone chooses otherwise, then it's up to the person. This is the "religion" of Buddhism....Truth, Peace, Harmlessness, and Freedom. A more appropriate term to describe Buddhism is "humanism". It deals with the peaceful conduct of human lives.

To refer to a more traditional rendition of what Buddhism is please surf through this website:
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